Cowtown Yoostabes, Poly Edition: Rosedale’s Kids Central

Say, there on East Rosedale Street, didn’t that yoostabe where . . .?


This column from the 1968 city directory shows the businesses and residences along four blocks of East Rosedale Street from Thrall Street to Collard Street, which was Poly’s “central business district.”

rosedale kids 57 CD

But the 1957 city directory show that just one side of one block of that central business district was also Kids Central: It contained Ashburn’s ice cream parlor, Mott’s variety store, and the Varsity theater. The three stood side by side by side, butter pecan to pick-up sticks to Panavision.

66 poly student dFrom the 1966 Poly High School student directory. (Clip from Sherry Newman Mallory.)

55 motts 3From 1955.

varsityvarsitySuch efficiency! In that small plot of real estate you could get brain freeze, blow your allowance on a cap pistol, and watch Aldo Ray and Robert Ryan win the war with very little wear-and-tear on your U.S. Keds.

convert mottsWhat memories the Mott’s storefront evokes! Fifty years ago, if you walked through the door on the left side of Mott’s, you were in practical, adult, no-fun country: housewares, minor hardware, stuff for ladies, stuff that had nothing to do with the real world—the world of kids. Ah, but if you walked through the door on the right side, you were aimed straight down the toy aisles—AMF and Revell model cars, jacks, jump ropes, yo-yos, dolls, board games, baseballs that went lopsided with the first solid whack from an electrical tape-gripped Louisville Slugger, brave, unblinking toy soldiers who never divulged military secrets no matter how much they were tortured by a boy with a magnifying glass and a Texas sun.

In the middle, between the left and right doors, was the checkout counter, where lived the forty-nine-cent red-ear slider turtles with painted shells. Accessories included Hartz Mountain dried-bug turtle food, and a plastic oval turtle habitat complete with painted gravel and a snap-together plastic palm tree in the center.

Remember the floor of the Mott’s store? It was wooden, shiny, and gently undulating. But you soon got your sea legs and could walk confidently on it. The sales ladies were gray and wrinkly (something that we surely would never be). But what you remember most was the smell. Mott’s had its own smell: eau de dime store, a unique bouquet that was an amalgam of the store’s diverse and concentrated stock: cheap perfumes and aftershaves, hair tonics, depilatories, baby powder, Testor model “dope,” baseball card gum, mothballs, candy, soap, Hartz Mountain dried-bug turtle food. You could be blindfolded and led door to door along Rosedale and know instantly when you entered the wonderland that was Mott’s.

Perhaps, like me, you assumed that whoever Mr. or Mrs. Mott was, he or she was a Fort Worth resident. Esters B. Mott was, rather, a resident of Dallas. And he died at age forty-four before many of us ever set a sea leg in one of his stores. The East Rosedale store was one of the first three Mott’s stores in Fort Worth, opened about 1942.

ashburn obit 8-1-39 dmnLikewise the benefactor who gave us the Ashburn ice cream stores. W. L. Ashburn lived in Denison and died in 1939. Clip is from the August 1 Dallas Morning News.

poly yoostabe googleMeanwhile, back at Kids Central, what yoostabe Ashburn’s is a chain sandwich shop, what yoostabe the Varsity is a parking lot, and what yoostabe Mott’s is the TWU bookstore. Today when you go into the building that yoostabe Mott’s, all you smell are textbooks. And if you ask this kid, the smell of a Shakespeare soliloquy can’t hold a brief candle to the smell of Hartz Mountain dried-bug turtle food.

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16 Responses to Cowtown Yoostabes, Poly Edition: Rosedale’s Kids Central

  1. motts building suposed to be haunted.the allso sold easter chicks .so the bigtop was number 2.where is /was number one located .who owned that?well done ampn says the check is in the mail.

    • hometown says:

      Earl, I recall that there was another Big Top on Bailey off Camp Bowie. Don’t recall if it was no. 1. Have a post on Mott’s coming.

  2. Janie Sims says:

    Thanks for the memories! On Halloween, during the 30’s thru the 40’s, there was a spontaneous costume parade on the sidewalk from Vaughn west to Burge’s Hdw. No trick or treating, just kids wearing their mostly homemade costumes while the parents stood by and watched.

  3. Janet Mason says:

    I absolutely love these walks down memory lane. I used to live right down the street on Rosedale. Thank you so much.

  4. Carey Ccokerell says:

    yoosta “deliver” the Polytechnic Herald. As I recall, it went out only on Thursday and was delivered to every house. Can’t remember exactly, but may have earned a dollar for the day.

    • hometown says:

      I, too, threw the “Herald” but seem to remember the office being on Vaughn, not farther west on Rosedale.

  5. Tony Hall says:

    Thank you for these varied trips into our shared past! I have thoroughly enjoyed these glimpses into our cities past and how it has evolved into what it is today. I for one have learned so much about what is hidden…in plain sight within our city and the surrounding area.

  6. Dixie Hensley Dibley says:

    Thanks for bringing back shared memories! Many old wooden floors take me back to the Motts toy aisle. Sights, sounds and aromas do permeate the memory forever ! Thanks for re-evoking them. Appreciate your posts. Lost Fort Worth is a treasure. Dd

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, Dixie. I think I personally kept that store solvent by buying forty-nine-cent turtles.

  7. Steve Allie says:

    great postings of Poly history! My friend Mike Palmer worked at Ashburns and we would stop in after basketball practice and he’d make us a malt that stayed in the cup when turned upside down which was long before the DQ Blizzard. Also when I was about 12 I bought my mom a birthday gift at Martin’s that she kept for 45 years or so and I then kept after she passed away. Also remembered the great hamburgers around the corner at The Griddle made with a 1000 Island hype spread which pre-dated the Braum’s version. Also remember the soda fountain at the Rexall drug store.

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, Steve. I remember you from basketball two years ahead of me. Am going out today to shoot a couple more Poly yoostabes.

  8. Dorthy Casten says:

    Love your posts – the memories are my memories. Your description of Mott’s on Rosedale is so correct. My brothers and I loved, loved, loved growing up in the Poly area. Your posts are wonderful reminders of times and places we will never experience again.

    • hometown says:

      Thank you, Dorthy. The south side of those two blocks of Rosedale was our downtown. Martin’s department store, shoe repair shop, drug store, photo studio, Ashburn’s, the Varsity, Mott’s, etc. Burge’s hardware is STILL there.

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